I’ve thrown my back “out” a few times over the years, and it’s not a fun time. Each time, however, I’ve thought about how I hurt it and how to do it better next time. One of the times I was reaching for a heavy bag deep in the trunk of my car. Anytime you need to bend over and reach for something outside of your center, you are at a mechanical disadvantage, and the heavier it is, the greater disadvantage. I reached and lifted, and felt a little ‘pop’ that I immediately knew was not a good thing. It laid me up for three days. What I should have done was slide it to the end of the trunk, braced my legs/thighs against the car bumper, and then lifted, using my legs. Back muscles aren’t designed to lift-legs are. So what if you get yourself dirty, it’s better than weeks of back pain. Another time I hurt my back occurred when I was sitting at the computer and dropped a piece of paperĀ on the floor. It was off to the side a bit and rather than turning my body and reaching, I twisted-oops! The joints of the spine are designed to move front to back, not side to side. Next time I will line myself up with the object, then pick it up. A couple of helpful hints: 1). always bend at the hips and not the back-the hips are designed for bending. 2). Anytime you need to extend your arms outside of your center (arms length), either brace yourself with an arm or get a leg under you-it takes the stress off your spine. 3). When you lift or pick up something, bring it in close to your body, even if you don’t think it weighs much. Continuous stresses on the back, even minor ones, have a cumulative effect, and you can ‘throw’ your back out in the future while doing something innocuous, like picking up a piece of paper. Hence the term “the straw that broke the camels back.” Happy lifting.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.